grading best practices - waukesha.pdf

of 25/25
1 School District of Waukesha Best Practices in Grading January 29, 2007

Post on 16-Apr-2015




1 download

Embed Size (px)


Grading best practices - waukesha.pdf


  • 1

    School District of Waukesha

    Best Practices in Grading

    January 29, 2007

    lcummingNoteNot For Distribution
  • 2

    Best Practices in Grading

    Table of Contents

    Page Preface..2 Collaboration and Consistency around Grading..8 Criterion Referenced Grading11

    Determining Grades...13 Communicating Expectations and Grading Practices....15 Homework and Extra Credit..17 Missing Work and Late Work and Zeros...19 Feedback....21

    Ken OConners A Repair Kit: Fixes for Broken Grades..23

    Additional Selected Bibliography..24

  • 2

    Preface to Grading Best Practices (Version #1) January 2007

    This Publication Grading practices are firmly held beliefs that are near and dear to the teaching professional. Many educators struggle with ways to improve grading practices so that it portrays accurately what a given student or class has learned. Many professionals model ways they were graded that they liked and discarded other ways they found distasteful. Few professionals have ever had a college level course on the subject, and only recently in the literature has there been thorough discussion and research on the topic of grading. So why this guide? Our History Back in the early days of SEWAC (South Eastern Wisconsin Assessment Consortium) many educators were involved in day long workshops on best practices in assessment. They (the speakers and professors) jokingly called on us to become better CIA agents. Those three letters stood for curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The thought was to become an agent be the best at all three! So we began the journey with such names as Marzanno, Gusky, OConner, Reeves, Fullan and others. The research and thinking on grading began to gain momentum in the late 1980s. Interestingly, to this day, not much of it sifted into our school practices in any organized or consensual way. Our Culture of School Improvement One can hardly attend any local, state, or regional workshop with out having a strand, or at least a sectional on grading and assessment. We also, as a district, were pushing ahead on other many simultaneous initiatives and beliefs that are now part of our current and historical culture. These became, and still are the focuses for district staff development planning. Since the mid 90s, they include (in no order of importance) but are not limited to:

    Consistent State Standards; Identify the Power Standards; Levels of Assessment (State, local, classroom); S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, attainable, results oriented, time bound); Beliefs in Multiple Opportunities to Learn (multiple intelligences, emotional intelligence, various learning styles, etc.); Varying instructional strategies in all classes; Data Driven Decision Making; Common Assessments across courses, units, grades; Differentiation of Instruction; requiring Professional Learning Communities (PLCs); EIM/ERE (Early Intervention Model, Early Reading Empowerment); UBD (Understanding By Design); De-privatizing the teaching practice; 6+1 Trait Writing Model; and next/now, Grading best and worst practice. (See SDW Initiatives How do the pieces fit on the following page for a graphic display of the above)

  • 3

    Standards &


    Instruction Assessment Data Analysis

    Continuous Improvement


    Foundational Questions What do we expect students to learn?

    What research-based strategies will we use to promote learning? How will we know whether or not they have learned it?

    What do we do if they dont learn? What do we do if they already know it?

    State standards District curriculum UbD Course syllabi

    Differentiation 6 Trait Writing

    Common District Assessments Grading and Reporting Practices

    Data Delves Data Binders Summer Academy

    SMART Goals Action Planning and implementation Response to Intervention

    Department Meetings Summer Curriculum Work All Leaders Meetings

    Teacher Development courses Collegial Studies Early Release

  • 4

    Policy History and Current Status Our first board policy on grading was passed in November of 1998. It was put in place due to an administrative rule mandate by the Higher Education Aids Board to help determine recipients of the State scholarships. In July of 2004, a proposed revision was taken to the Board Policy Committee. Why? Staff returning from SEWAC and other conferences were sharing what they learned and asking whether the District would ever address the questions about grading in any systemic manner. The proposed policy was never intended to be a final recommendation, but rather a discussion starter. The administration was given direction to table that version for now and design a process to include greater input and opportunity for discussion of the issues by all staff, parents and students. Materials Used in the Study Meanwhile, the literature continued to pour in and some additional books were published that continued to show us that much of what we were doing as grading practices really had little basis in research. In some cases, it just plain lacked common professional sense. So to be helpful, a small grading study committee (teachers and administrators) was formed to continue to look at the topic. Materials, articles and books were collected and two three ring binders were sent in multiple copies to all sites for study. These materials and a charge to our leadership team began the discussions. This small kit of grading stuff as it was once referred to, was designed with the intent to stimulate thinking, help professional dialogue, and ultimately lead to some better policy and practice on the subject of grading. In addition to several books, the kit contained the task, history and discussion questions, some draft policy language, and 27 articles and power points from some of the best thinkers on the subject in the country. Many of these experts have been writing and speaking on the topic for the last two decades. Since grading is a topic with much complexity, it was estimated that a twelve to twenty-four month period would be needed to encourage thinking and sharing as well as gathering more input. It has ended up being a two and one half year journey to get to where we are today. So what input was expected? Site and Professional Input Principals were instructed to gather input from students, parents and staff. Site council discussions were carried out often bringing out a particular parents biases, historical experience and beliefs. Input from teachers ranged from please help me do better in this area to I have done my grading system this way for 20 years. Information was sifted and winnowed by the grading committee and others. Periodic reports were given to the Board Policy Committee. Although Board policy will need to be changed in the near future, what is important is that the issues are crystallized and best practices be made known. Thus we now have this first version guide. We anticipate biennial updates since the research and best practice streams continue to flow.

  • 5

    The Major Areas Considered in the Study Grading practices must be reflective of student achievement in a given subject area. Components not related to student performance should not affect student grades. Summative assessments include products and performances reflective of students knowledge and skills at the end of a time period or unit of study. Summative assessments are used as the primary component of grades that accurately reflect student performance. Multiple forms of summative assessments need to be administered to provide the most accurate picture. Final exams or end of course exams, although an acceptable component of student grades, should not be the main or only form of summative assessment. Homework is used to provide practice opportunities for students and is typically not used as a component of an achievement grade unless some specific homework could be considered a summative assessment. Formative assessments are tools used to provide teachers with information about the strengths and struggles of students in order to adjust teaching to meet student needs. Formative assessments are not used within grade calculations. To address these and other topics, we have created chapters called Issues in the guide. Topics include:

    Collaboration and consistency Criterion referenced grading Determining grades and grade averaging

    (Tom Gusky said, in karate, if you go from a white belt to a black belt, do you get a grey belt)

    Communicating expectations and grading practices The role and grading of homework (students who pass tests, are proficient or advanced

    on WKCE, but fail classes due to zeroes on homework and vice versa) Missing work and late work The type, role, amount and use of extra credit The use of zeros in grading and what scales we should use.

    This is not an exhaustive list. Through our new teacher development program, required coursework includes time spent on learning UBD, differentiation, and the development of authentic assessments. Required professional development regarding theses issues has become part of our expectations for all leaders. We are in a multi year staff development plan for district administrators and other leaders focusing on these issues. We have begun addressing the consistency issues as departments work on common assessments at the end of the unit, quarter, or semester. Discussions have also commenced in teacher teams, departments, and other professional learning communities regarding the issues on grading those assessments at all levels. First or Second Order Change as it Applies to Assessment and Grading How much change is needed in our grading and reporting practices and how fast can changes be made? Systemically or personally, the answer is in studying the phenomenon. First-order change is incremental. It can be thought of as the next most obvious step to take in a school or district. Second-order change is anything but incremental. It involves dramatic departures from the expected, both in defining a given problem and in finding a solution. (Marzano, Waters, McNulty, 2005). They go on to call some change incremental and others deep. In reviewing

  • 6

    best practices in grading, it is our committees thought that it most likely falls somewhere in between. Put another way, using Ronald Heifetzs classification of type one, two, and three problems. It could be viewed that improving practices in grading is not a type one problem where traditional solutions are available and known but rather a type two problem. A type two problem is one where there is good definition of the problem, but no clear, cut immediate solution is available thus, working toward a better practice gradually by professional dialogue and study. For reference, a type three problem is one where current ways of thinking do not provide any solution. Quick fixes may be available in some areas, but others will take groups of professionals working together to improve. Assessment of student work is a collaborative ongoing process that involves reflection and feedback. Its goal is to help teachers analyze student work to improve instructional decisions and, thus students learning. Student work is defined as any data or evidence teachers collect that reveals information about student learning. Expectations and Use of the Guide (or what is tight and what is loose) There is a need to examine our own biases, prejudices and preconceptions in the grading arena. The climate needs to support that self reflection. In a learning organization, trial and error should be encouraged. Innovation occurs when people work together to solve problems and improve practices on multiple fronts. The issue of grading student work is only one of those fronts. We often talk about what is tight (all must do) and what is loose (some choice allowed). Expectations are that professional staff be familiar with the content and practices in this guide. Additional resources are also contained in the binders, books and bibliographies referred to earlier or included in this work. Over a two year period, leaders will discuss and work with staff to use and apply the concepts and practices. This, coupled with some upcoming changes in School Board Policy, should allow all of us to learn and grow.

    ********** This document has multiple roots, authors, reviewers, critics and contributors. Over the past thirty six months, many articles and documents were reviewed. Some staff formed collegial studies or whole faculty study groups and others shared articles and discussed them at staff meetings. Others just routed materials and dealt with grading questions in their grade level or subject area department meetings. Still others made sure that parents and students were included where appropriate. This activity culminated in a process of gathering input from each site collected by the building principal. The input was forwarded to a central location with the committee listed below voluntarily sifting and sorting for the best ideas and criticisms to eventually include in the final first draft. In the spring of 2006, the synthesis of information from the sites began and ended with a first draft of this document. We then asked several people listed below as draft reviewers to also review the work and make further suggestions and recommend any final edits.

  • 7

    The work is meant to be a start, with additions and revisions expected as we learn more and work with the content. Future work on grading and reporting may include

    self assessment of grading practices finding time for PLCs (professional learning communities) strategies for dealing with change strategies for dealing with resistance best practices in homework more examples of grading practices to help teach the concepts.

    It is anticipated that as the document and its ideas are used, additional best practices will emerge or be discovered for use in future editions. The Grading Synthesis (from site input) Committee: Rob Bennett, Eileen Depka, MaryAnn Krause, Jill Land, Abby Grimm, Rich Mertes, Jill Ries, Kathy Stonitsch, Bob Willis, Jim Haessly Draft Reviewers: Jennie Lamb, Dana Monogue, Sara Behrendt, Mike Bralick, Gloria Lake, Heidi Laabs, Ryan Champeau, Tony Brazouski, Eva Shaw, Catherine Sawicki, Glenda Conforti, Rosie Merchle, Lori Staniszewski, Jamie Walz, and many others who engaged in discussion or preferred not to be named.

  • 8

    The most promising strategy for sustained, substantive school improvement is developing the ability for school personnel to function as professional learning communities. DuFour & Eaker

    Grading and Reporting Version #1

    ISSUE #1 / Practice / Effective Practice Guideline: Collaboration and Consistency around Grading The Essential Questions: What is true collaboration? How can consistency affect student achievement? True collaboration means moving from collegiality to conversations around what matters for student achievement. Deprivatization of teaching practice is essential to true collaboration. Working in professional learning communities with colleagues provides an opportunity for collaboration. True PLCs focus on using data to identify gaps and develop instructional practice to close the identified gaps. Common assessments are in place for several curricular areas and are being developed for the remaining areas. These common assessments are essential to continue the conversation regarding common course expectations and outcomes. Appropriately teaching targets and power standards will be agreed upon and articulated. This allows a student that transfers schools within the District, to find the same course content and objectives to work towards at any school they attend. The differences the student may possibly experience are how the outcomes are taught. It is important to remember that as instructors the what is developed by the district and the department. How you get students to reach the what is developed by the instructor, and that is the how. Consistency in assessment and grading practices increases fairness for all students. The guidelines address core practices that are essential to consistency throughout the District. Consistency improves communication from teacher to teacher and teacher to parent. These are the important issues that collaboration will focus on. The number one goal of collaboration is student learning. There is significant amount of research supporting the premise that PLCs incorporating the six components identified by Dufour and Eaker (1998), link to positive changes in teacher performance and student achievement. The components include reform based organization into study groups or mentoring, collaboration between teachers from the same department or grade level, the coherence of linking professional development to the school goals, a focus on developing expertise in teaching, opportunities for viewing student work, sustained time and duration for the study group or collaborative teams to meet. Another system being used to improve learning is Collaborative Analysis of Student Learning (CASL). It is a system designed to help teachers analyze student work to improve instructional decisions and, thus, students' learning. Student work is defined as any data or evidence teachers collect that reveals information about student learning (e.g., standardized test data, classroom assessments, writing samples, projects, oral reports, videotapes, pictures and student observation data). As part of the system, teachers join a study group to interpret and document students' progress toward local learning standards and reflect upon how students learn as well as upon their own professional growth.

  • 9

    When the analysis focuses on the same students over an extended period of time, teachers make discoveries about how students construct meaning of key concepts and skills. As a result of the insights and skills gained through this system, teachers become much more purposeful about selecting instructional and curriculum approaches, moving students ever closer to the appropriate learning outcomes. The application of collaborative practices is a must. For meaningful application individual attitudes and practices must aim towards professional growth and student achievement. Sources / Articles (Available in Binder(s)/Principals Office):

    Twadell, E. (2006). From Good to Great: Laying the Foundation of a Professional Learning

    Community. Presentation for Summer Academy. Waukesha, WI Marzano, R., Pickering, D., Pollock, J. (2001). Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria,

    VA.: Association for Curriculum and Development Montgomery County Public Schools. (2006). Learning, Grading, and Reporting Guidelines.

    Rockville, MD. North Canton City School District. (2004). NCCS Grading and Reporting Guidelines. North

    Canton, OH. OConnor, K. (2002). How to Grade for Learning. Glenview, IL. :Pearson Education Principals Research Review. (2006). Principals Research Review. Implementing Professional

    Learning Teams, NASSP 1(5): September. Langer, Georgea M, Amy Bernstein, and Goff, Loretta S, (2003) Collaborative Analysis of

    Student Work:Improving Teaching and Learning, Alexandria, VA.: Association for Curriculum and Development

    Effective Possible Best Practices for collaboration:

    Working in pure professional learning communities Using data for study Developing collaborative practices Shaping instruction based on student data Developing common assessments Identifying common targets

    Practices that inhibit learning from collaboration:

    Using collaboration time to focus on the three Cs- calendar, consequences, and choices Working in a congenial manner instead of in true collaborative manner (see attached side by

    side of PLCs and normal collaboration).

  • 10

    True Professional Learning Communities vs. Congenial Collaboration




    Structured Unorganized

    Time bound Timeless or un-timed Data driven Opinion loaded no measurable data

    Progress is measured regularly No measurement of progress There is a unrelenting pursuit of excellence

    (Good To Great and the Social Sectors, Collins 11/2005)

    Excellence is unintended but sometimes happens

    Change is embraced as necessary for improvement Love of the status quo Piercing fundamental purpose (this is very

    important) Preponderance of purposelessness (things are ok

    the way they are) A learning organization by design Learning occurs by chance

    Mutual interdependence (cant do it alone) Required collegiality feels forced Focuses on student achievement Focuses on the deadly Cs: calendars, choices,

    consequences (Erik Twadell) Conscious choice and discipline builds leadership

    capacity in We await direction

    Mission oriented (this is just what we do) We believe in what we do now Vision oriented (this is what we can become at

    best) We are pretty good now

    Values driven (we have our agreed upon rules of operation)

    We will meet when we have time

    Supports teaching with group reflection Allows or supports teaching in isolation Believes in collaborative analysis of student work Believes a single teacher always has final say

    Sets SMART goals Goals are not specific, measurable, attainable, results oriented and time bound

    Peer coaching is valued and practiced Only administrators should coach teachers Collaborative reflection Individual reflection

    No single killer innovation or magic moment but momentum builds on previous work and previous


    Looks for the single answer

    Conscious decision to do what is right based on inner discipline

    No focus little mission or drive

    Collaboration heavy Collaboration light congenial

    They collectively consider and.. Have a stop doing list what doesnt fit the

    hedgehog concept (piercing insight that allows them to see through complexity and discern underlying patterns. Hedgehogs see what is

    essential, and ignore the rest), they eliminate the least important 20% of any activity (Collins, 2001)

    Have a to do list only and keeps adding to what we have

    Know the core values of the organization Act without knowledge of or outside of core values Instill creative tension and it helps take small

    positive steps toward growth View tension as a problem

  • 11

    Grading on a curve tells very little about what students can do. OConnor

    Grading and Reporting Version #1

    ISSUE # 2 / Practice / Effective Practice Guideline: Criterion Referenced Grading The Essential Questions: What does criterion referenced grading mean? How can criterion referenced grades be applied to everyday grading? Criterion referenced grades are based on measuring a student against a level of performance, not measuring one student against another student. This means looking at how a student is performing today compared to how the student performed the day before that. Criterion referenced means setting a defined target for students to hit, and then measuring their progress according to how close they come to hitting the target. Criteria and targets provide stable and clear points of reference. (Wiggins, 1994). The application for criterion grading is providing students with rubrics and scoring guides that set the criteria for mastery. Students are then able to demonstrate their knowledge according to the pre-determined objective/objectives. Instructors are then able to grade a student against the pre-determined target and not other students. For criterion grading, it is important that rubrics are used consistently and that there is clarity in the presented objectives. As Stiggins says, Eliminate the mystery surrounding the meaning of success in your classroom by letting your students see your vision. If they can see it they can hit it. But if they cannot see it their challenge turns into a pin the tail on the donkey- blindfolded, of course. Reflecting on the fairness of grading practices sparks thought to the concept of criterion referenced grading. Using criterion referenced grading contributes to consistency and fairness in grading. It also promotes growth in students instead of competition between students. Sources / Articles (Available in Binder(s)/Principals Office):

    OConnor, K. (2002). How to Grade for Learning. Glenview, IL. Pearson Education Marzano, R. (2001). Pickering, D., Pollock, J. Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria,

  • 12

    VA.: Association for Curriculum and Development Montgomery County Public Schools. (2004). Learning, Grading, and Reporting Guidelines.

    Rockville, MD. Stiggins, R., (2001). Student-Involved Classroom Assessment. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill

    Prentice Hall Wiggins, G., 1994. Toward Better Report Cards. Educational Leadership, October, 29-37.

    Effective Best Practices for Criterion Referenced Grading:

    Use rubrics and clear targets Provide students with the learning objectives/goals ahead of time Provide exemplars or anchor papers for students to view achievement levels Grade students against mastery of the objectives

    Practices that inhibit learning:

    Not providing objectives or targets Grading students against a norm-referenced curve Not using rubrics for scoring student work Grading by comparing students to each other

  • 13

    Use the photo album approach not a snapshot approach to grading student learning. Tomlinson and McTighe

    Grading and Reporting Version #1

    ISSUE # 3 / Practice / Effective Practice Guideline: Determining grades The Essential Questions: How do you consistently and fairly determine grades? What constitutes an academic grade vs. nonacademic grade? How do you effectively grade special needs students? Course grades must be based solely on academic achievement. OConnor (2002) states that Achievement demonstrates knowledge, skills and behaviors that are stated as learning goals for a course or unit of instruction. Student achievement can include but not be limited to, projects, portfolios, presentations, and varied forms of assessments. Several of our departments and other groups of teachers at all levels have developed common assessments. These common assessments are also appropriate for academic grading. Importantly, participation and effort are non-academic and should not be graded as academic achievement. Participation grades and effort grades often include things like attendance and behavior. As we seek to fully implement common standards of achievement into instruction, it is not appropriate to grade student on non-academic achievement in an academic grade. In order for grades to reflect what students know and can do, grades must only reflect the students level of academic achievement. Using zeros as grades is an ineffective and potentially damaging practice in a 100 point scale. Using a zero for a students grade does not accurately reflect what the student does or does not know. Proportionally there is a significant difference between grades other than Fs and 0s. For example there is a difference from a 70 to a 77 between a D and a C. There is a difference from 0 to 69 for students that are receiving a failing grade. The gap between 0 to 69 is extremely wide, unlike the gap between 70 to 77 which is quite narrow. Said another way, there are equal intervals from 100 down to 70, and then on very large interval. This gap can create a serious and potentially dangerous situation for students. Assigning a zero could decimate a students grade. Contrary to popular belief, assigning a zero actually serves to de-motivate students of all ages. Using grades as weapons is ineffective and detrimental. Students with special needs include students with disabilities, ELL students, and G/T students. Guskey (2001) argues for making specific grading adaptations. In regards to students with disabilities, change the grading criteria, provide supplemental information and use alternate grading options, such as pass/fail. For ELL students, individualize the adaptation process and use accurate and reliable evidence. Also, clearly communicate accommodations made in assessment and reporting procedures. In regards to G/T students, adding a supplemental form based on specific learning goals will offer parents individualized information about their son/daughters abilities and talents. Research demonstrates over and over that basing student grades on a bell curve or average is not a fair

  • 14

    way to determine their academic achievement. Using the median or mode to calculate grades will create a system that rewards either the most often or more recent performances. Also, applying weight to assignment/project/assessment grades will place importance on important instructional concepts and learning goals. This helps to fairly apply that importance of that particular work to the grade. Another alternative is using a grade of I or incomplete. This allows students an opportunity to finish work therefore teaching them responsibility. Finally, reflecting on the purpose of grades will help to clear the air. The true purpose of grading is to communicate a students academic achievement. Including anything other than academic achievement is simply unfair and can do unforeseen damage. Sources / Articles (Available in Binder(s)/Principals Office):

    Guskey, T. (October 2004). Zero Alternatives. Principal Leadership, 49-53 Guskey, T., Bailey. J. (2001). Developing Grading and Reporting Systems for Student Learning.

    Thousand Oaks, CA.: Corwin Press Montgomery County Public Schools. (2004). Learning, Grading, and Reporting Guidelines.

    Rockville, MD. OConnor, K. (2002). How to Grade for Learning. Glenview, IL. :Pearson Education Reeves, D. (2006). The Learning Leader: How to Focus School Improvement for Better Results.

    Alexandria, VA.: Association for Curriculum and Instruction Effective Possible Best Practices for Determining Grades:

    Using median or mode instead of always mean for calculating grades Using multiple ways to assess students Using the photo album approach vs. the snapshot approach Weighting project grades helps to create a fair system (see OConnor, pg 146-147) Using an I (Incomplete) and giving students the opportunity to redo their work

    Practices that inhibit learning:

    Using grades as punishment does not work and does not create responsibility Averaging grades is not fair, it can give an inaccurate picture of student achievement Using zeros as grades in a 60 to100 or 70 to 100 scale vs. a 1,2,3,4 scale makes unequal intervals Basing grades on things like attendance, attitude and work habits is not an accurate account of

    what students have learned academically, and is unfair

  • 15

    Create the Nintendo effect, use immediate and meaningful feedback. Jeff Howard

    Grading and Reporting Version #1

    ISSUE #4/ Practice / Effective Practice Guideline: Communicating Expectations and Grading Practices The Essential Questions: What does communication of expectations and grading practices look like? Students and parents will benefit from open lines of communication regarding expectations and grading. Students and parents will be informed of curricular expectations at the beginning of a course grade level or marking period. At a minimum, parents and students will be informed at the beginning of a semester or year. It is well known that students can hit virtually any target that is presented to them. In contrast, if they are aiming in the dark several of them will surely miss the target. Grade level teams and teachers teaching synonymous courses shall communicate and apply consistent expectations and practices. It is unfair to expect a student to guess at their learning targets and subsequently penalize them if they do not meet them. Our ultimate unbending purpose is positive student achievement, so setting clear targets is meaningful and of the utmost importance. There are many appropriate ways to communicate expectations, one of which is the course syllabus. In addition, things like assignment notebooks, journals and weekly newsletters are also viable means of communicating pertinent information and expectations. The Webgrader system using webnotes is another way to communicate. The use of an online grading program allows parents and students to access current information regarding homework, grades and assignments. The use of such a program will serve to increase student responsibility for their work, and in turn, increase parents confidence in the school system. Creating a situation in which parents can provide the necessary feedback to their children regarding grades, assignments, and achievement will, in the long run, increase student achievement. Although not all parents have the desire, or necessary resources available to utilize Webgrader, it does provide the necessary start in attaining more involvement in student achievement. (Scott, 2002) In addition, this system provides information to teachers and administrators creating the necessary information to track students that are having difficulty. The up-to-date information on individual students can effectively be used to shape instruction practice and meet the students present level of performance. When students are informed of the targets and methods of assessment the likelihood of student success is increased greatly. The element of surprise or pop quiz is not an appropriate way to try to affect students. Using grading to create punitive situations has shown to decrease student motivation. Fairness means making all students aware of the goals and objectives they will be expected to accomplish.

  • 16

    Sources / Articles (Available in Binder(s)/Principals Office):

    OConnor, K. (2002). How to Grade for Learning. Glenview, IL. Pearson Education Marzano, R. (2000). Transforming Classroom Grading. Alexandria, VA.: Association for

    Curriculum and Development Marzano, R. (2001). Pickering, D., Pollock, J. Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria,

    VA.: Association for Curriculum and Development Montgomery County Public Schools. (2004). Learning, Grading, and Reporting Guidelines.

    Rockville, MD. Scott, Terry, Kathy Briggs, Belinda Foster. (2002) Existing Research. California State

    University. Retrieved October 17, 2006

    Great provisions of Webgrader from Waukesha teachers:

    Equitable and reasonable grading The use of percentage, rubric and mixed grading methods Grades can be determined by cumulative points or weighted grade points Categories can be chosen to allow for weighting items differently, i.e. homework, projects, daily

    assignments, and tests There is a connection to State and District standards There are many reports that can be utilized to demonstrate student learning Teachers can use a four point scale, district 100 point scale, and modified scales with 60 being the

    bottom rather than 0 Effective Possible Best Practices for communicating expectations:

    Communicating expectations and goals in a written format Expressing clear and concise expectations Being repetitive Rubrics are shared prior to the lesson Involve students in creating rubrics

    Practices that inhibit learning from communicating expectations:

    Playing gotcha with expectations Only communicating expectations verbally Not communicating methods for determining grades

  • 17

    Homework should be a risk-free chance to experiment with new skills. (Carr and Farr, 2002).

    Grading and Reporting Version #1

    ISSUE #5 / Practice / Effective Practice Guideline: Homework and Extra Credit The Essential Questions: What are the various types of homework? What homework should be graded? What is the maximum weight homework should be given in a final grade? There are four types of relevant homework. These four types of homework are homework for practice, homework as preparation for learning, homework as an extension of learning, and homework as true assessment. Homework for practice consists of homework that extends the learning from the classroom. Concepts that were taught in class can be practiced and expanded upon through homework. This type of homework can serve to enrich the students knowledge base and inform their continued learning. Homework as preparation for learning is an opportunity for students to share their prior knowledge and existing background knowledge with you. This form of homework gives students time to reach into their long-term memory and retrieve meaningful information related to the concepts. Homework as an extension of learning serves to solidify concepts taught in the classroom. This type of homework provides students an opportunity to expand upon the learning they participated in during class. Homework as a true assessment takes on a slightly different application. This form of homework is an assessment of the concepts taught in class. This may mean a take home assessment. The purpose of this type of assessment is to shape instruction. By assessing one can get real and meaningful information on students strengths and weaknesses. This serves to help shape the instruction around student needs. However, there is caution with this type of homework. Do not let the word assessment fool you into thinking that you must assign a grade to the assessment. As with all homework, homework as a true assessment does not need to be graded. If homework is graded it is essential that it is viewed as part of a students photo album and graded according to that holistic approach. Homework as an extra credit option that is not attached to student learning is not an appropriate way to apply the principles of meaningful homework to increase student achievement. Practices such as bringing items for the teacher, classroom supplies (tissues for example), points for turning fees or forms in on time, attending fundraisers or sporting events for points are all completely inappropriate and not allowed. Best practice documents indicate that homework for practice or preparation should not include more than 10% of the grade.

  • 18

    Overall it is important to reflect on the facts that homework should be viewed as primarily formative, and therefore provide students with opportunities for investigation and a synthesis of learning without consequence. Homework plays a relevant and important part in student learning when it is applied appropriately. Sources / Articles (Available in Binder(s)/Principals Office):

    OConnor, K. (2002). How to Grade for Learning. Glenview, IL. Pearson Education Marzano, R. (2000). Transforming Classroom Grading. Alexandria, VA.: Association for

    Curriculum and Development Marzano, R. (2001). Pickering, D., Pollock, J. Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria,

    VA.: Association for Curriculum and Development Montgomery County Public Schools. (2004). Learning, Grading, and Reporting Guidelines.

    Rockville, MD. Kohn, A. (September 2006). Abusing Research: The Study of Homework and Other Examples.

    Phi Delta Kappan, Pgs. 9-22 Effective Possible Best Practices for homework:

    It should be directly related to instructional objectives and concepts Allow for practice of new skills and knowledge without penalty Provide an opportunity to demonstrate practice without consequence Enrich and deepen students background knowledge Expand or integrate learned knowledge An opportunity for students to receive timely and meaningful feedback on their work It should allow for mistakes, as mistakes are important to learning You should let students know when homework is for practice or assessment

    Practices that inhibit learning from homework:

    Using it for punitive consequences Not relating it to learning, i.e.- your homework is to bring in a box of Kleenex Rote memorization for homework does not translate to long-term learning No meaningful feedback Not allowing multiple opportunities to try a new concept without penalty Not communicating clearly regarding practice vs. assessment

  • 19

    No studies support low grades or marks as punishments, low grades more often cause students to withdrawl from learning. OConnor

    Grading and Reporting Version #1

    ISSUE #6/ Practice / Effective Practice Guideline: Missing Work/Late Work/Zeros The Essential Questions: What is appropriate grading for missing or late work? How can grades for missing and late work be appropriately assigned and communicated? The true intent of teaching is learning. Students should be encouraged to finish their school work in preparation for developing content knowledge and academic achievement assessments. Since the goal of teaching is learning, it is far better to find ways to have students complete work rather than assigning a zero to missing or late work. In fact, if the punishment for not turning in work is actually completing the work the teacher and the students gain. An alternative to assigning zeros is assigning an incomplete. This is an alternative which gives students an opportunity to learn the content. Take care in developing systems for record keeping. It is important to thoroughly communicate grading expectations. Clear definition between due dates and deadlines should be communicated. The same courses from school to school will share the same grading formulas. If homework is used as formative practice students should not be penalized for taking risks, including taking more time. Research shows that using grades as punishment actually serves to de-motivate students. OConnor (2002) lists seven pointers for getting work in on time:

    Set reasonable and clear targets Ensure clear communication of tasks Support struggling students Find out why work is late and assist Establish reasonable consequences such as:

    After school follow-up Make up in a supervised setting Parent contact

    Provide an opportunity for extended timelines If all else fails, use small deductions which do not distort achievement or motivation, not zeros

    Sources / Articles (Available in Binder(s)/Principals Office):

    Guskey, T. (October 2004). Zero Alternatives. Principal Leadership, 49-53 OConnor, K. (2002). How to Grade for Learning. Glenview, IL. Pearson Education

  • 20

    Marzano, R. (2000). Transforming Classroom Grading. Alexandria, VA.: Association for Curriculum and Development

    Marzano, R. (2001). Pickering, D., Pollock, J. Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria, VA.: Association for Curriculum and Development

    Montgomery County Public Schools. (2004). Learning, Grading, and Reporting Guidelines. Rockville, MD.

    Reeves, D. (2006). The Learning Leader. Alexandria, VA.: Association for Curriculum and Development

    Effective Possible Best Practices for missing/late work/zeros:

    Set reasonable timelines Find out why students are not meeting deadlines, help them Communicate all learning targets Refrain from using zeros when not using a four point scale

    Practices that inhibit learning from missing/late work/zeros:

    Assigning punitive penalties Grading attitude and participation as achievement Providing unclear expectations Lowering a grade in a way that would inaccurately reflect achievement

  • 21

    Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Lombardi

    ISSUE #7/ Practice / Effective Practice Guideline: Feedback The Essential Questions: What constitutes meaningful feedback? How can I appropriately give feedback that will positively affect student achievement? Effective feedback needs to be immediate and meaningful. In definition that means, feedback needs to be regular and specific, combined with guidance and directions that will help the students in making any needed improvements. Meaningful feedback is specific and formative, giving students information on the specific content and the necessary skills students need to apply to meet the learning goals. Feedback that is timely and meaningful will have a direct impact on student achievement. Students are able to reach objectives if the objectives are clearly communicated to them. Feedback is the springboard to reaching the intended objective/objectives. Incremental feedback will assist students in making progress. The Nintendo Effect described by Jeff Howard gives us a comparable answer. What does Nintendo give a distracted and inattentive student that class instruction is not providing? Feedback, feedback that is specific, incremental and timely. At the end of each game the player knows exactly what they did wrong and how to improve for the next game. How many would keep playing if their scores were given to them a week or two later? How many would continue playing if they only received a score with no direction on what to do better next time? There are several ways to implement feedback as common practice in the classroom. The use of an analytical rubric helps to clarify learning expectations and goals for students. Cover sheets including checklists, along with developed common checklists help to create a feedback rich classroom. Encouraging student to student feedback will also serve to enrich the feedback environment. It will be helpful to ask these questions when you are preparing to give a students feedback. What is the error? What is the probable reason for the error? How can I get students to avoid this error? What feedback can I give the students on their noteworthy work? Importantly, remember that for feedback to be meaningful, it must be timely and specific. Incorporating feedback in the routine of the classroom will make it part of daily practice. Sources / Articles (Available in Binder(s)/Principals Office):

    OConnor, K. (2002). How to Grade for Learning. Glenview, IL. Pearson Education Marzano, R. (2000). Transforming Classroom Grading. Alexandria, VA.: Association for

    Curriculum and Development Marzano, R. (2001). Pickering, D., Pollock, J. Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria,

    VA.: Association for Curriculum and Development Montgomery County Public Schools. (2004). Learning, Grading, and Reporting Guidelines.

    Rockville, MD. Depka, E. (2006). Presentation for All Leaders. Waukesha, WI.

  • 22

    Effective Possible Best Practices for feedback:

    Comments comparing the current work with what is expected on the assignment or assessment Probing questions that cause the student to think about the task Pointing out positives and negatives as compared to the learning objectives Reminders about the specifics that will help students meet the target learning objectives

    Practices that inhibit learning:

    Using grades as feedback Giving feedback late or untimely Giving nonspecific or general feedback

  • 23

    A Repair Kit: Fixes for Broken Grades From Ken OConnors presentation on grading at the Sally Ride Academy, Waukesha, 2006

    Fixes for ingredients that distort achievement:

    1. Dont include student behavior (effort, participation, etc.) in grades; include only achievement.

    2. Dont reduce marks on work submitted late; provide support.

    3. Dont give points for extra credit or use bonus points; seek evidence of a higher level of achievement.

    4. Dont punish academic dishonesty with reduced grades; apply behavioral consequences and


    5. Dont consider attendance in grade determination; record only absences.

    6. Dont include group scores in grades; use only individual achievement evidence. Fixes for low quality or poorly organized evidence:

    7. Dont organize information around assessment methods; use standards/learning goals.

    8. Dont assign grades using inappropriate or unclear performance standards; provide clear descriptions.

    9. Dont assign grades based on students achievement compared to other students; use absolute


    10. Dont rely on evidence from assessments that fail to meet standards of quality; check against standards.

    Fixes for inappropriate number crunching:

    11. Dont be a mean teacher relying on the average consider other measures of central tendency (median and mode).

    12. Dont include zeros as a reflection of lack of achievement or as punishment; use alternatives, such

    as Incomplete. Fixes to support the learning process:

    13. Dont use information from formative assessments and practice to determine grades; use only summative evidence.

    14. Dont accumulate evidence over time and use all of it when learning is developmental and it will

    grow with time and repeated opportunities; emphasize recent achievement.

    15. Dont leave students out of the grading process they can play key roles that promote achievement; involve students.

  • 24

    Additional Selected Bibliography

    Guskey, Thomas R. (2000). Evaluating Professional Development. Corwin Press , Inc. OConnor Ken. (2002). How to Grade For Learning. Pearson Education, Inc. Munk, Dennis D. (2003). Solving the Grading Puzzle for Students With Disabilities. Knowledge

    by Design, Inc. Marzano, Robert J. (2000) Transforming Classroom Grading. McREL Institute. Munk, Dennis D., & Bursuck, William D. (2003, October). Grading Students With Disabilities.

    Educational Leadership, 38-43. Guskey, Thomas R., College of Education, University of Kentucky. The Battle Over Report

    Cards: Grading Policies That Work. (see handout- Sally Ride)) Stiggins, Richard J. Assessment Crisis: The Absence of Assessment FOR Learning. Phi Delta

    Kappan. Lets Worry More About Assessing Students and Less About Grading Them. (7/6/2004). Failing Grades for Late Assignments: Teaching Responsibility for Giving Permission to Fail?

    (7/6/2004). A Teacher Researches a Middle Schools Grading Practices. (7/6/2004). Guskey, Thomas R. (October 2004) Zero Alternatives. Principal Leadership, 49-53 Kohn, Alfie. (March 1999) From Degrading to De-Grading. High School Magazine. Kohn, Alfie. (November 2002). The Dangerous Myth of Grade Inflation. The Chronicle of

    Higher Education: The Chronicle Review. Littky, Dennis & Grabelle, Samantha. (2004). The Big Picture: Education Is Everyones Business. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Krumboltz, John D. & Yeh, Christine J. (2004). Competitive Grading Sabotages Good Teaching. Bibliography Reviews Grading Practices. (November 1996). West, Martin. (2004). Tough Love: The Value of High Grading Standards-From the Editors. Hoover Institution Press.